It has been well documented how Tim Leavitt lied his way into winning the 2009 election for Mayor of Vancouver by running on a “No Tolls” ticket and swiftly flip flopping before even being sworn into office.
His lies and flip flops were recorded in print and captured on video for all to see.
In spite of his own grandiose claims of how effective he has been these past 4 years as Mayor, the city of Vancouver remains mired in deep economic troubles, having once closed a much needed fire station, laid off firefighters only to beg for a federal grant to reopen and retrain new firefighters, all while monies were made available to go into debt to purchase the new Columbian Building for a new city hall and hundreds of thousands of dollars put forth to build a new waterfront park in hopes that future development would come around that park.
His term is also marked for his efforts to silence citizens speaking before city council in opposition to the CRC light rail project as well as his desire to burden citizens with increased taxes, fees and yes, tolls to pay for the CRC light rail project while opposing allowing citizens to even vote whether or not we even want the CRC light rail project as designed.
In addition to be labeled ‘the Liar’ for his flip flopping on slapping high tolls of voters, he picked up the label of ‘teflon’ for not being held accountable for ill behavior against other council members as well as skating on numerous accusations of ‘conflict of interest’ where the CRC light rail project, his employment with PBS Engineering and sitting on commissions that vote to fund the CRC, C-Tran and TriMet when his employer is also being paid by TriMet.
City Attorney Ted Gathe, married to State Representative Sharon Wylie (D. 49th), also a supporter of the CRC light rail project has rejected every accusation saying there is no apparent conflict of interest, based most often on Mayor Leavitt allegedly not being directly involved in certain aspects where his employer receives payment from TriMet.
With the latest allegation still being considered, let’s take a look at why many voters see Mayor Leavitt in a conflict of interest situation.
To begin with, RCW 42.23.070 reads,
“No municipal officer may, directly or indirectly, give or receive or agree to receive any compensation, gift, reward, or gratuity from a source except the employing municipality, for a matter connected with or related to the officer’s services as such an officer unless otherwise provided for by law.”
Mayor Leavitt is employed by PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc., “specializing in project management, building and site assessment, value engineering, project design, permitting, and Click for larger map construction oversight.”
He also holds a voting seat the C-TRAN Board of Directors and in the past has held a seat on the Regional Transportation Council subcommittee as well as his duties as Mayor and member of the Vancouver City Council before that, voting on matters of spending tax dollars or contracting with various agencies, including Portland’s TriMet.
In his capacity as Mayor, Leavitt has lobbied and advocated in support of the Columbia River Crossing light rail project that will see Portland’s TriMet receiving large amounts of funds from the FTA (Federal Transit Authority) to expand light rail into Clark County.
Mayor Leavitt’s employer, PBS Engineering holds an On-Call Contract with TriMet “for environmental and health and safety services” and is the basis for the current allegations of conflict of interest against Mayor Leavitt.
Past allegations were swept away with a simple “Leavitt is not part of that particular contract” and does not work on those projects, or so we are told.
As is brought out by the Reflector on the latest allegations, “the C-TRAN board is considering the terms of an agreement with TriMet for the operation of light rail in Clark County” which means more taxpayer money from Clark County citizens to TriMet.
Mayor Leavitt has vote favorably on the proposal twice, recusing himself from a third vote under fire from County Commissioner David Madore over his “failure to disclose that his employer has a contract with TriMet.”
Although recusing himself from the last vote, Leavitt scoffs at the notion of a conflict of interest saying, “the matter has been brought up, and dealt with, before.”
He also said, “The ‘appearance’ of conflict, to nobody’s surprise, continues to be brought up by those in the vocal minority that are opposed to the CRC project and have shown a propensity to resort to harassing techniques to get their way. I can’t explain what their thought process is, but it appears those particular individuals continue to be misguided in believing my participation (or that of a mayor that supports the CRC) is somehow a make-or-break for the project. This recent regurgitation of the same-ol, same-ol accusation is just another example of the lack of statesmanship and irresponsible behavior from a sitting county commissioner.”
While it is unknown whether or not Mayor Leavitt has ever personally benefitted from such contracts between his employer and TriMet, it is known that TriMet has paid his employer handsomely. From TriMet’s own reports, payments to PBS Engineering dramatically increased since Tim Leavitt announced his candidacy and subsequently became Mayor of Vancouver.
It should be noted that none of Mayor Leavitt’s time has been billed on any invoices seen to date, but it also must be noted that Mayor Leavitt votes favorably on matters such as the CRC Final Environmental Impact Statement that support funneling large amounts of funding to TriMet for many projects well outside of the so-called CRC Benefit Zone at a time TriMet faces some $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities.
We know how Tim Leavitt lied through his teeth to win the 2009 election for Mayor, leading former Mayor Royce Pollard who he defeated saying “Leavitt duped the citizens of America’s Vancouver. He checked his honesty and integrity at the door somewhere way back down the line … people bought that bull … this was a campaign based on a lie.”
And now, we are expected to believe all of this is nothing more than an incredible coincidence?
I think Royce Pollard had it right.